Top 8 Tips and Tricks for Competitive Events

It’s that time of year again! This is quite honestly my favorite season of all…competitive events season! While high school students prepare for their District Leadership Conferences in February, middle school and college students are beginning to prepare for their events at the State Leadership Conference in April. The infamous question that so many of us wonder when preparing for competition is: How do I get on the National stage? It’s taken me a couple of years to accumulate some tips and tricks that will hopefully assist you in your preparation. Listed below are my top 8 tricks to competitive events.

  1. Read the rubric. The rubric is what the judges are judging you on. Be sure that you know the rubric and prepare your presentation around it. Trust me, from a judge’s perspective it is so much easier to follow if you present in order of the rubric. Throw in key words into your presentation that are from the rubric. This is strategically presenting your case.
  2. Have a main point. Just like any presentation or speech- there has to be a main point. Be sure to state that point and make it clear for the judges to understand. For example, should you be giving a speech in Public Speaking then you want to clearly state how your speech relates back to the goals.
  3. Show passion. Remember that judges are judging many other competitors. The thing that will set you apart from the rest is if you are passionate about your topic. From the judge’s perspective, they can tell whether or not you actually enjoyed the topic.
  4. Make it memorable. Remember how the judges have so many other competitors to listen to? You MUST make your presentation memorable. They have to remember you and what made you unique amongst the rest of the competition.
  5. Research. Research. Research. Perhaps you’re not into presenting and you enjoy taking objective tests. My advice for that would be to do your research. Then once you’re finished doing that do your research again. Your adviser probably has a text book about your event. However, the tests change every year. Be sure to look at the competencies and read up on those other areas that the test could cover.
  6. Role play research. If you’re thinking about doing a role play where you take a test then give a presentation then you need to make sure you’ve done your research. I’ve worked with students who even went as far to purchase their own textbooks to study when competing in events like Sports Management.
  7. It is natural to be nervous. We’ve all been there. I am nervous before every competition that I compete in. Find something that eases your nerves and allows you to excel in your area. For example, I listen to “Party in the USA” before every competition. Cheesy, I know. But it is what keeps my nerves bearable and allows me to compete successfully.
  8. Have fun! How many times do you get to do this? Not too many. Be sure to take a breather and have fun with it. If you’re not having fun in the first place, then we need to reevaluate the situation.

There you have it – my top 8 tips and tricks to competitive events. Of course, these are just my top 8; there are plenty more out in the world. If you have any to share please share! Remember that every judge is completely different and there’s not a single perfect way in competing – you just have to get up and try. Be sure to do what works best for you and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Dylan Kennedy, PBL President (Southeast Missouri State University)